‘Cutie’ gets his day in court

Attorney General Steadroy 'Cutie' Benjamin. (Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party)

Attorney General Steadroy 'Cutie' Benjamin. (Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party)

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The battery of lawyers representing Attorney General Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin in his forgery case wants Magistrate Ngaio Emanuel off the case and, for the “bad” charges to be dismissed.

When Magistrate Emanuel called up the case, Hugh Marshall, one of the attorneys representing the accused, told the court, “Before any charges are put to our client, there are a number of applications we’d like to make and we think they ought to be in writing … we are awaiting something from the court in order to do this.”

Marshall told Emanuel the legal team thinks there’s a perception of bias with regards to the case being tried in her court, hence they intend to formally ask her to recuse herself.

Moments before the matter was called in Emanuel’s court, there was a brief hearing before Chief Magistrate Joanne Walsh who recused herself from the case.

Walsh said she was stepping aside because she had personal knowledge of the case since she was working in the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) when the investigation began and she was the first person whom the investigator called.

Marshall objected when she said she would transfer the case to Magistrate Emanuel. Marshall, in his statement, said the charges were bad; there was political interference by members of the former government; there’s an abuse of process of the court and there’s no evidence against his client.

He also asked that Emanuel be recused since there’s perceived bias given her close connection to the former Attorney General, Justin Simon QC.

However, DPP, Anthony Armstrong intervened and informed Marshall that Walsh was taking the correct course of action and that she could not recuse another magistrate from the case. Armstrong said a recusal application must be made directly to the person being asked to step aside.

The chief magistrate agreed and forwarded Benjamin’s case to Magistrate Emanuel’s court next door.

There, Marshall again raised his concerns; Magistrate Emanuel took note and then gave Benjamin’s team until August 21 to file the submissions/applications for her recusal and dismissal of the case among other issues. The police prosecution team was given until September 22 to respond in writing.

Once the dates were set, the defence also called for and obtained an order for the prosecution to disclose all the evidence to be used against Benjamin at his trial.

The prosecution asked for one week to put the file together for Benjamin’s lawyers, but Marshall objected, saying, “This matter has been going on for six years, they shouldn’t need a week.”

However, the magistrate gave the prosecution until August 21 to furnish the defence with all the evidence. A seemingly agitated Benjamin, who was standing in the accused box, asked the court for a return date earlier than October 1. He turned to his lawyer and said, “I just want to get it over with.’

Benjamin and Marshall were reminded that the prosecution had until September 22 to reply, therefore an earlier date wasn’t possible.

Police Prosecutor Inspector Dave Jackson, who thanked the court for the time, revealed that six witnesses are expected to testify for the prosecution.

Benjamin is accused of three offences.

(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)

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37 thoughts on “‘Cutie’ gets his day in court

  1. can their be true justice in antigua?[lala land] when he is appointed head of the justice system who ar we fooling,antigua going forward or backward, with justice,it seem their ar no true justice for the fear mind ppl of the land.god help us,greed have taken over.

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  2. Mr. Benjamin is in the clear here because if a birth mother and a young man shows up to his office with documentation to apply for a passport, with the main evidence, which is the birth certificate. Her name is on there and I am sure she has her passport for identification and a young man who I guess is roughly the same age as her deceased son. Does Antigua and Barbuda have a computerized database to cross-reference birth certificates and death certificate?

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    • @ IBABA and many others if that was the case then “any” taxi man or gabage man should and can sign for anybody once the arguments with the documents you are saying are put in-front of them to sign.

      You see this is beyond this.

      Antigua and Antiguans such as Cutie who have over 40 years in the legal fraternity and 30 years in political lime light cannot afford to do these “so-called” neighborly friend and concubine signing(s).

      Love him or NOT; It is unethical, not professional, criminal act, etc. and Antiguans will learn the hard way if these things continue. Antigua is no longer an ink spot between the Caribbean sea and Atlantic ocean 75 years ago. We are professionals, on a global scale and even worst – on political lights.

      No matter how much Mr. Benjamin is willing to use the defense “I did because is someone to be my neighbor and i felt sorry for them”, he must bite the bullet and professional relinquish his political positions and worst yet disbar or censored/discipline. clear cut case.

      Love him or not. He and others must look at this as I stated above. Failure to do this will have domino effects that might even start blood curdling things unimaginable in this little island state. Everybody that is smart, will use this as stepping stone to get away with any and everything. This is just a small puzzle in a bigger picture

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    • he no in no clear if me a sign a photograph say me know and don’t them without proper background check as the educated man he claim he is, you call that fraud…..jail

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  3. I don’t know nothing about the case. Mr. Cutie Benjamin is a very very nice person, and it pose led me that he would get caught up in these type of problems. I personally love him and he will not do anything to hurt or harm know one. Benjamin possibly will sign a document without even checking, because he loves to serve people.

    My gut feeling is, dismiss the case and let God be the Judge.

    You are my personal friend, not for politics but for who you are, and what you have done for me. Thank you and may God bless you. Cleveland

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    -10Controversial!

  4. Just as the rest of the crap that happens at this level, I don’t see him getting convicted. This will be another piece of dust swept under the rug just like so many before. But, a people get the government they deserve, and this unfortunately is it…

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    • Yes
      The Court will be stacked in his favour and he will probably get off on a technicality.

      Then you will hear the ALP supporters bray that he was “INNOCENT”.

      they will fail to understand the difference.

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  5. It’s amazing, and nothing short of amazing, that Antiguans would not protest with the strongest effort against this travesty. Imagine two DJ’s are prevented from plying their trade because one Government minister believes that they should be held to a high standard of behavior. Apparently, one is before the courts, and their behavior during the recent General Elections were not in keeping with the standard of behavior that Antiguans, including politicians, must be held to. But in the Cabinet of Antigua where this minister sits, the Attorney General, to wit, Mr. Cutie Benjamin is before the courts charged with fraud that includes an Antiguan passport. Just as the minister doesn’t know whether these DJ’s will be found guilty or innocent, we do not know the outcome of Mr. Benjamin’s case, but he is allowed to stay in the cabinet. And in a strange case of Antiguan jurisprudence, he is in charge of the Police, who brought the charges; the DPP, who decided to bring the said charges, and the Courts, where the his guilt or innocence will be determined. That we are not treating this with the highest level of outrage, is in itself an outrage. This should never happen, and should not be allowed to continue. And it has or should have absolutely nothing to do with whether one is ALP or UPP. The fact remains that this is not good for the image of Antigua and is not the best way for Mr. Gadston Brown to start his stint as Prime Minister. I had high hopes that as a young man, and a relatively new politician, he would’ve been foreign to the practices of the old type of politics and would bring a new dispensation to politics in Antigua, but I was sadly mistaken. It’s not too late though, and even though I will not be holding my breath, I believe that Mr. Brown can redeem himself and his (or should it be this) “new” ALP, by remembering that even though be is married to a Bird, he is not a Bird and must take the party into a new “Birdless” direction.

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    • Question to you who expected a “new Labour Party” Do you think the devil’s spawn could produce holy angels?

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  6. The lady involved in this case was convicted. It would be unfair if he gets away. This is just to show that money talks. I strongly believe that this guy isn’t going to spend a day in jail. The law should be the same for the rich and the poor, the guy who steals to eat and the guy who steals for greed.

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  7. Why hasn’t he resigned from Ag post, parliament yet? How dare he with the nerve asking the magistrate to recuse herself. Why hasn’t he recused himself from the office he’s holding? For a person of our highest lawmaking body to hold on to his position as a parliamentarian and moreso as the AG, it begs the question of why he has not resigned from both until the matter is disposed of. Why is there no such calls from those of us with more red in our veins? This is the reason why corruption will continue growing deeper into the minds of our youths as they are watching our action and listening (to) our speeches; clearly seeing there’s an ever widening gulf between our rhetoric and our actions. No wonder most are so pessimistic about the whole justice system because morally, ethically, politically and educationally we have regressed into pockets of dollar crowds, standing for personal gains only.

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  8. Is this the first time an AG is before the court? Was he given the post in an attempt to defer or derail the process? It is strange that the publishing of the numerous tapes were never addressed by this party but how easily the AG was appointed to him. Was this an oversight or a new way of trying to subvert the course of justice? By the way it appears that his lawyer wishes every magistrate to recuse themselves from the matter. LOL? The good man spent a lot of resources to prevent this day as he went all the way to privy council. Everyone should be presumed innocent until proven guilty but the length gone thus far leaves an ugly trail. Let’s see how justice for haves and have nots works. I am hopeful but I am also a realist.

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  9. Tenman,

    You know exactly what the people meant by in charge of the courts. The courts, police, DPP fall under his portfolio. His is the Government’s top legal mind. At least, that is what one would think.

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    • Redonda you are aware that the police should not decide on whether they should charge someone based on what the AG or minister of justice say? He cannot and should not give them specific instructions. The COP has Independence. If anyone it should be the DPP and you already know his feeling on the matter.

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      • Tenman
        Keep your powder dry.

        You will need it to defend the Honorable AG
        when the other charges come to light.

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  10. I am sure if other notarys were to do some digging they too will find out that documents they signed have been falsified.

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  11. I will sit by the wayside and watch this whole picture develop. He will not spend a day in 1735. He will be tried and he will walk. Like I said, in Antigua and Barbuda, justice has eyes.

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  12. my way of helping August 1, 2014 at 12:22 - Reply

    I say this but will also say, in a matter like that when someone bring you what you deem to be valid identification proving who they are, you act in good-faith to notarize their documents and take a record of what documents was presented as evidence.

    Also remember the country does not have or did not have valid IDs. So, to charge cutie without any kind of substantial, extreme, compelling evidence of intent to, means this was more political than legal (doing the right thing). Show me there was compelling evidence other than someone sign a document saying someone is someone they weren’t.

    If they have new evidence, why not disclose them to the court and defendant? Why didn’t the defendant file motions for discovery? If no evidence was ever presented why didn’t they file motion for dismissal, for showing no cause of action?

    The 6 witnesses, who are they and what could they know? I believe if it was substantial testimonies from them, the prosecution will be ready and all too excited, it would be on the street of Antigua and Barbuda, frankly in USA too ha ha.

    I truly would sue for defamation, other infliction of emotional distress, etcetera after your case is dismissed or you are found not guilty. If there are no kind of substantial evidence that a reasonable person could interpret as intent to participate in the fraud, accessory before or what ever terms they may use.

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    -16Controversial!

    • @ my way of helping…..
      Help, helllppp, helllllllllp!!!!!
      My pet tortoise has been run over by a hare, lost a claw, and wants to sue me for being a negligent and delinquent pet owner. I want, to sue my pet for, harassment, ungratefullness, badmindedness and character assassination.

      Can you help me!!! Please, please help, my way of helping.

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    • “My way of helping” your defence of this “gentleman”, rests on the fact that he is one of your “favourites” and also the questionable proposition that the U.S. law in this area is somewhat defective.

      Why not propose an ethical solution, instead of these half baked arguments?

      You can help by proposing Principled forms of behaviour .

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  13. No one should have to tell Mr. Benjamin to resign from politics on a whole. It is time we the people of this country, begin to weed out the morally week, the white collar criminals and disgraceful characters we have representing us. Its is time for a new breed of policy makers. Are there no real upstanding, young minds (who studied political science) in this nation? I am tired of the frauds who make laws in this country.

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  14. Benjamin is “in charge of the court system”? If that were correct he would not be on trail. Heard some argue he is over the police. Again if true, the Privy Council would not have ruled that the police are independent when it comes to charging persons. While some argue the AG is the boss, the current AG is arguing that the former AG stepped into a matter the law gives him no power to do. The suggestion is that Benjamin was charged due to the interference of the former AG. The interesting part to me was the police asking for time so they could get their case together. Many a times the police are chastised by the court for filing charges before they are ready to proceed with the case. The COP better ensures they are able to prove their case because if they lose and political interference is proved, he should be fired. Agree with even the former AG that the DPP should lead police prosecutions. Them doing independently has historically shown ineptitude. An example of this was the ALP 6 case , which the COP called the most important case in centuries where ALP members were accused of leading a demonstration up the wrong road (see http://caribtimes.com/ag/index.php/local-news/205-charge-dismissed-against-alp-six). In most advanced jurisdictions the COP would have been fired after that case

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  15. Why should anyone be surprised, politicians are all the same worldwide . They are blinded by the power. Instead of moving forward , they waste time and money on irrelevant issues that mean and do nothing for the people. Move forward and serve the people on important matters. Case in point , I have personally spent the last two months, over 100 phone calls and numerous emails to come and assist the fire service in donations and training. The fire service needs assistance, the people of Antigua deserve a basic service , life safety. I have spoken with mr Benjamin and many other ministry agencies and I am still waiting as time runs out for Antigua .

    Instead of living in the past , move on. Focus on the future and Spend the energies and resources on important matters that can actually get done and make a difference . These petty issues take the resources and energy away from real change .

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  16. He just has to threaten to release the FSRC Report and he’ll get the case postponed until after his death.

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  17. I do not know why people are saying it is going to cost us, when this is a matter that happened in his private practice. Note also that the AG fought this matter tooth and nail to the privy council and every court says he should stand trial. This has nothing to do with politics. The other two accused in this matter went to jail, they were not thinking politics it was a business deal. They paid for a service rendered. Where does politics come into play. See things the way they are and not what the politicians want us to believe this is not politics…

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  18. Amused. Let us all remember ANU is only 108sq.mls. 80k populace. The number of lawyers extrapolated from this number means paths must cross. He is a pleasant fellow helpful and kindhearted. Lawyers will come to his defense. It is left to be seen what will happen if anything at all.
    We may have another “Teflon Don” in the making

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  19. This is great for Our Legal/Judiciary System, several things here:

    a. I have nothing personal, against MP Benjamin
    b. MP Benjamin, should resign, as AG.
    c. The Chief of Police (COP), should either, resign or be terminated.

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  20. Let me get this straight, UPP was governing this country when this took place right? they held power for two terms and didn’t get anywhere with this case. 2014 and the ALP now run things and not only that the man they are trying to get is now the attorney general of this country. Once again politicians are playing us like fools and here we are really going for this. Waste of money, waste of time. I know everyone is looking for justice even more so the UPP squad but this case will end even before it start. When you in power use your power don’t wait till you on the other side to make noise. Stop playing politricks on us, leading up to the election I never here so much recordings of Asot and Lester and still after two terms these guys stand even stronger. Wake up and smell the coffee my people.

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    • Why do you continue to post to this blog when you contribute nothing but partisan shallowness to the discussion? Didn’t Cutie fight tooth and nail to prevent the case from going forward and was only recently denied by the Privy Council? You seem to want to forget the facts on the issues and make these ridiculous posts on here that make no sense. It is either you are so politically blinded that you will defend the ALP no matter what or you are so intellectually limited that you do not understand the issue. I am going to be nice and would conclude it is the former rather than the latter.

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  21. sophisticated slavery August 1, 2014 at 08:25 - Reply

    The more things change, the more they remain the same. Another front and another waste.

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  22. I have nothing against Mr. Benjamin personally, nor do I have an opinion on the merits of the case against him, but isn’t it ironic to have the individual in charge of the court system standing in the “accused box” in court? The honourable thing would be for the gentleman to resign under the circumstances. If not, he should be forced to resign. Only in Antigua……

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  23. When cutie was the oppersition he was above the law, now he is the law. All this day in court nonsense is just a joke, nothing but a big joke, a waste of money that the government on the brink of bankruptcy is going to have to find to pay the court and the lawyers. Do you think he will step down from his position in government until trial is over

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  24. I sincerely hope that justice prevails
    It is a sad day when the legal system is politicized.
    To those who think and see ALP only please do not interfere with the legal system. If he is guilty send him to jail if he is innocent then he walks .

    Let justice and righteousness prevail

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  25. Whoever the Magistrate is somebody will find an objection.
    Whatever the result is somebody will find an objection.
    To offset the first objection is it possible under Antiguan and Barbudan Law to have a bench of 3 Magistrates sitting on this case and the result being a written disclosure?

    The last time I was in an English Magistrates Court I faced 3 persons on the bench.

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  26. So who do they want to preside over the trial? They’re acting like ANU’s legal system is so huge that individuals will never cross paths. ……let him take his licks and hopefully learn his lesson.

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